BAYFIELD Thirty-one years might seem like a long time to wait. For the Bayfield High School girls basketball team, its just long enough.
The Wolverines tore through Peak to Peak Charter School on Saturday afternoon, using their trademark frantic, in-your-face defense to beat the Pumas 57-41 and claim their spot in the elite eight at the CHSAA Class 3A Girls Basketball State Championships in Fort Collins.
Truthfully, man, it just feels awesome, BHS head coach Ronnie Posey said. Its a great group of girls, and they deserve to go. Nobody gave them anything ... we had to go out and win those games, and they did it, and they deserve to be where theyre at.
Four Pumas fouled out as they scrambled to stay with the frenzied BHS transition attack that pushed and pushed until it propelled the Wolverines ahead by double digits midway through the third quarter.
We didnt feel like they could keep up with us for a whole game, Posey said. Our defense dictates the pace of the game. And when you play from behind, you maybe take risks that you shouldnt.
The key for that defense was limiting Peak to Peaks Kadijah Sayyid, who averaged more than 20 points a game this season. Sayyid still scored a game-high 19 against the Wolverines, but she hit just six of 30 shots as she launched long balls from the perimeter and slick turnaround jumpers from the top of the key in an effort to pull the Pumas back within pouncing distance.
No other Puma scored in double digits, and Sayyid, too, fouled out with less than a minute left. She received an ovation from the raucous Bayfield crowd.
Posey said he cant give enough credit to assistant coaches Eva Duce and Jacob Posey, who drew up the Bayfield game plan in about two hours.
I totally believe it worked, the BHS head coach said.
And it worked because the Bayfield zone did what its done all year trap and help.
Im really thrilled that our zone kept her on the perimeter, and then our post girls did a good job of rebounding and stopping those post-entry passes, head coach Posey said.
We talk a lot about playing as one instead of five, Candace Shaw said. I think we got a little fire in our step, too.
That fire translated into rapid offensive production after halftime, too.
In the first two quarters, the teams played to a virtual stalemate, with Bayfield edging the Pumas 18-15 at the half. The teams combined for six turnovers before the first score, which came on free throws from Bayfields Kayla Strobel.
I think we played a little faster than the game called for, said Shaw, daughter of Carla and John Shaw.
I think when we got back inside ourselves, it (worked).
Breetta Moe said the Wolverines suffered from some jitters in a frustrating first half but talked through their shortcomings in the locker room at halftime and came out ready to mesh. That felt a lot better.
Its kind of hard to explain because its probably the best feeling ever, said Moe, daughter of Amy and Vern Moe. When we mesh together, its fun, and you get an adrenaline rush, and I know everyone loves adrenaline highs. Its fun.
The fun also translated into a 19-4 run for the Wovlerines that started midway through the third quarter and lasted into the fourth. After again struggling to make baskets at the rim in the first half, it was three consecutive layups from Shaw that kicked off the game-defining scoring streak.
The Wolverines pulled ahead 38-21 with about 7 minutes to go in the game for their largest lead of the competition and didnt relent.
I started playing and not thinking, Shaw said. I have a bad habit of overthinking instead of just doing what I know how to do.
What Shaw knows how to do is score points, and she again scored a team-high 15. Moe followed close behind with 13, eight of them from the free-throw line, including two technical fouls against Peak to Peak. Tia Neeley added nine for Bayfield.
Posey said if the girls continue to learn patience and confidence on offense, theyll be a force next weekend at the state tournament at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
When we get that, were going to be tough, Posey said.
The Wolverines will take on Eaton, which defeated Manitou Springs 51-36 on Saturday, among the 3As elite eight next weekend dates and times have yet to be released.
With Saturdays win, the Bayfield girls improved to 20-3, a school record to go with their first state tournament appearance since 1981.
Its amazing, Shaw said. Oh my gosh, I dont even know. Its surreal.